Macular Degeneration Could Indicate Brain Disease?

Macular Degeneration Could Indicate Brain Disease?

With age-related macular degeneration (AMD) becoming one of the most prominent and dangerous afflictions affecting many people over the age of fifty today, research for answers continues.

Although incurable, many leaps and bounds have been made in treating AMD which can also, inexplicably, go into remission, reverse and close all on its own. However, one recent study is concerning scientists due to the possible indication that eye diseases, such as AMD, could be a sign of deeper troubles. It turns out that in the case of potential brain disease, the body may give clues on the surface of the retina of the eye.

Hidden Pathological Changes

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland have recently discovered that certain protein manifestations hidden on the surface of the retina of the eye could indicate future disease affecting the central nervous system (CNS).

Published in the Oxford Journal, Human Molecular Genetics, Science Daily reports how this study showed potential for Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s and more. Here it is described how scanning the retina, a common procedure in diagnosing AMD as well as used in a generic vision checkup, it was found that,

“Day and color vision associated retinal dysfunction was found in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease (HD), while the mouse was pre-symptomatic. Retinal structure remained relatively normal, even in an advanced disease state, although aggregation of toxic mutated Huntington-protein was widespread in the diseased mouse retina.”

It turns out that a simple scan indicated the beginnings of this disease even before showing any symptoms whatsoever.

With Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) becoming front and center regarding top diseases affecting humans, particularly Americans, today this study showed another step that could at least allow a patient to begin early intervention. Here it was found in night vision which, when afflicted with AMD, could be much more challenging.

“In a mouse model of Alzheimer´s disease (AD), researchers observed abnormality in night vision associated retinal function. Specifically, rod-mediated inner retinal responses to dim light flashes were faster in diseased mice than in their wild-type controls. The observation may be explained by impaired cholinergic neurotransmission that is also partly causative for the deterioration of memory in AD.”

Here it is described how these night vision abnormalities could be the first sign of developing AD.

Another presentation of potential disease was found on the retina that presented as the potential for a pediatric related condition called neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL). Interestingly, these indicative proteins show as a type of faux AMD.

“In a mouse model of late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), a pediatric neurological disease, the researchers described retinal degenerative changes that mimic the characteristic pathology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These included impaired function of retinal pigment epithelium and subsequent blindness due to photoreceptor atrophy and death. It has been postulated that the retinal degeneration in human patients progresses similarly.”

This mimicking of AMD on a mouse model pediatric retina once again shows how such a clue can now be considered beyond its original presentation. Therefore, rather than accept the first indication, ophthalmologists can now look deeper for rapid treatment.

An Eye Checkup Could Save Your Life

These three results from the Finland study add to the growing body of evidence regarding how pathological evidence should not be ruled out when it comes to retinal scans. In addition, it also indicates the importance of not accepting the first diagnosis such as the case of NCL which will hopefully encourage practitioners to look deeper if such presentations are discovered. This all points to the overwhelming importance of how an eye checkup could save your life.

The study concurs,

“The findings support the idea of eye examinations as potential screening tools for CNS diseases. Development of efficient, safe and economic screening tools for CNS diseases is imperative, since the diagnosis of these diseases is often obtained only in the advanced disease state when as such satisfactory remedies are poorly effective.”

Talk to your doctor about these abnormalities that may occur on your retina. Mention this study if you must and, if you present such retinal changes, how you might be able to stave off future development of brain diseases such as those mentioned here and potentially others.



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